On what started out as a sunny day at Shea Stadium, Johan Santana was the pitcher the Mets and their fans needed.
There is a reason why he is making the money that he is making, a reason why the Mets traded away their farm system just to land him. An ace was needed.
Yesterday afternoon, that ace finally showed up at Shea Stadium pitching a six hit complete game, the seventh in his career and the first for the Mets since John Maine did it in July of last year. Santana dominated with six strikeouts and only one walk.
Naturally, he was not perfect. Rare will you find a pitcher who is. His only mistake was a solo home run to St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols in the seventh inning.
That would have been the second home run he allowed had Mets center-fielder Carlos Beltran not robbed Ryan Ludwick of a home run in dead center with a spectacular snow cone catch over the wall.
This was an outing the Mets definitely needed after the use of every member in the bullpen Saturday night. He knew this when he arrived to the ballpark.
During a post-game interview, he said his mission was “to go as deep as [he could] to rest the bullpen while giving the team an opportunity to win.”
Aaron Heilman was relieved he was not going to be needed with every reason after pitching more than two innings and throwing 57 pitches in Saturday’s devastating loss.
After the game, he approached Santana giving him a hug and saying “thank you.” All fans should say thanks to Santana too for all the torment they have given him the past month and a half.
I think it is safe to say with yesterday’s performance he has shut up all the naysayers in the Mets’ fan base. Here is your ace. Love him. Appreciate him. There will be plenty more through the second half of this baseball season.